I just got a free golf cart.
Actually, it cost me $6,490 but the dealer, Colin Riley of Tucson,
Ariz., points out that there's a $6,480 federal tax credit on such
vehicles. Riley runs ads that say: "FREE ELECTRIC CAR.!"
Some consumers probably assume it's a car-dealer scam, but it's not.
It's an Uncle Sam scam.
The tax code is outrageously complex and damaging in many ways, but it
is made especially complex and damaging when congressmen use it
"creatively" to manipulate us into doing things they deem "socially
constructive." These are things that always bestow advantages on some
politically connected manufacturers at the expense of others. After all,
you were either planning to buy a golf cart or you weren't. If you were,
the policy is unnecessary. If you weren't, you were induced to spend
money on that product rather than something else. The unseen victim is
whoever would have sold you the alternative product.
Such manipulation is at the heart of the entire "green" strategy.
The Wall Street journal reports that business is busy taking advantage
of the tax credit. "Is that about the coolest thing you've ever heard?"
Roger Gaddis of Ada Electric Cars in Oklahoma said.
I thought "free" golf carts were outrageous enough that the publicity
would embarrass Congress into killing the tax credit. I thought the
media would be all over it. But even though Riley has received thousands
of calls for cars and sold hundreds he hasn't seen much media
attention. The Journal commented, "You can't blame a guy for exploiting
loopholes that Congress offers."
In Florida, Tony Colangelo also sells subsidized cars. He said the
golf-cart credit is good for politicians:
"It's all (about) going green. They want all those gas vehicles off the
street. They'd rather have the electric than anything."
The golf-cart boom follows an IRS ruling that many golf carts qualify
for the electric-car credit. A credit is better than a subsidy since you
keep money the IRS would have taken. Still, it is an insidious form of
manipulation used to benefit some forms of industry at the expense of
Colangelo says: "I never, in my entire life, got anything back from the
government, and I've always paid taxes. Why shouldn't the people who
worked hard for their money get something back?"
Because government shouldn't be in the business of taking money and
giving it back! That just gives the venal cretins more power over our
After I drove the car onto my first Fox Business Network show last week, viewers wrote in asking how they could get
But others got the concept.
Sirsickofit writes: "People, please stop asking for information on the
golf carts. … Stossel is trying to make a point!! If you purchase
these carts you will be adding to the problems."
I'd like my taxes (and government spending) cut, too, but I don't want a
manipulative favor from government I'll give my cart to charity.
The electric-vehicle subsidy is ludicrous not just because it is a form
of industrial policy which almost always picks losers it's also
destructive because it creates more pollution, not less. That's because
much of the electricity needed for their operation comes from burning
coal. As the National Research Council puts it:
"Although they produce no emissions during operation, they rely on
electricity powered largely by fossil fuels for their fuel and energy
intensive battery manufacturing."
In addition, check out the complexity of the credit:
"(1) $2,500, plus (2) $417 for each kilowatt hour of traction battery
capacity in excess of 4 kilowatt hours. Section 30D(b)(1) limits the
amount of the credit allowed for a vehicle to amounts ranging from
$7,500 to $15,000, depending on the gross vehicle weight rating of the
How many hours will accountants and tax lawyers waste over that?
Congress makes life worse every time it meets, and green hysteria sucks
so many good things from the country.
Government is a meddling presumptuous pain in the neck. The sooner we
get it to stop manipulating us through tax laws, the better.